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|Federal COVID Workplace Safety Rules Are Here. But Only For Health Care Workers by Terrancal: 2:25am On Jun 12, 2021|
Fifteen months into the pandemic, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a mandatory workplace safety rule aimed at protecting workers from COVID-19. But it only applies to health care settings, a setback for unions and worker safety advocates who had called for much broader requirements.
Called an emergency temporary standard, the rule takes effect as soon as it's published in the Federal Register and can remain in place for up to six months, during which a permanent rule could be considered.
The new rule mandates that employers develop and implement a COVID-19 plan and take steps to reduce the chance of transmission, including keeping people at least 6 feet apart indoors, installing barriers between workstations where distancing is not possible, ensuring ventilation systems are working properly, and providing and ensuring each employee wears a face mask when indoors, or a respirator and other personal protective equipment when exposed to people with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19.
For unvaccinated workers, employers are now required to provide paid time off to get vaccinated and to recover from any side effects from the shots.
Some of the language in the rule is vague and appears open to interpretation. For example, fully vaccinated workers are exempt from the requirements when they are in well-defined areas where there is "no reasonable expectation" they will be exposed to the virus.
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